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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 May 2006, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Belfast will host U19 World Cup
Belfast has been chosen as the host city of the 2007 International Rugby Board Under-19 World Championship.

The tournament, which will feature 24 nations, will take place over a three-week period from 4 April to 21 April next year.

Ulster Rugby chief executive Michael Reid said the province was determined to put on the greatest ever tournament.

"It's a key tournament in the international rugby calendar," said the Ulster official.

"It is is arguably the biggest sporting event ever to be held in Ulster.

"Our thanks go to the IRB for selecting Ireland as the host union and to the IRFU for putting their trust in Ulster."

Reid added that the tournament would be a "wonderful opportunity" for the sport.

"It can create a lasting legacy through better facilities, youth development and volunteerism.

The province has a long and distinguished rugby heritage
IRB chairman Syd Millar

"We will have more than 700 players here from all over the world, so it is a great chance to showcase Belfast as a major player on the international sporting scene," said Mr Reid.

International Rugby Board Chairman, Dr Syd Millar said that Ulster had an opportunity to host the most successful tournament to date.

"The province has a long and distinguished rugby heritage and I am sure that they will produce an outstanding tournament.

"A whole host of players have graduated from the IRB Under-19 World Championship to make names for themselves at Test level," added Mr Millar.

Amongst those backing the tournament financially and providing additional support services are UK Sport, The Northern Ireland Events Company, Belfast City Council, Sports Council for Northern Ireland and North Down Borough Council, with some pool games possibly to be played in Bangor.

"UK Sport is delighted to contribute up to 368,000 to the IRB Under 19 Rugby World championship," said John Scott, International Director at UK Sport.

Australia won this year's Championship last month in Dubai when they defeated New Zealand in the final.

Ireland, who claimed the world title in 1998, finished fifth in this year's competition.

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